Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) stabilized by new cationic 1‑(3‑(acetylthio)propyl)pyrazin‑1‑ium ligand (PPTA) were synthesized. AuNPs stabilized by PPTA (PPTA-AuNPs) were found to be spherical and polydispersed with the average size of 60 nm. Human neuroblastoma (SHSY-5Y) cells permeability of PPTA-AuNPs was found to be a key feature to study the intracellular quenching of Fe(III) proliferative activity. In vitro MTT assay revealed non-cytotoxicity of PPTA and PPTA-AuNPs at 100 μM concentration, while treatment of 100 μM of Fe(III) with SHSY-5Y cells resulted into higher cells viability. Contrary, a mixture of 1:1 Fe(III) with PPTA-AuNPs showed no change in the viability of cells at same concentration which suggests the intracellular complexation and recognition of Fe(III) by PPTA-AuNPs. AFM morphological analysis of SHSY-5Y cells also supported the MTT assay results, and it is safe to conclude that PPTA-AuNPs can be used as Fe(III) probes in living cells. In addition, Fe(III) caused a significant decrease in the absorbance of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) band of PPTA-AuNPs in a wide range of concentration and pH, with limit of detection 4.3 μM. Moreover, the specific response of PPTA-AuNPs towards Fe(III) was unaffected by the interference of other metals and components of real samples of tap water.